Originally published on CUInsight.com

When I was growing up, I enjoyed video games. It didn’t hurt that I am part of that generation who experienced the “golden years” of console gaming. My first system was an Atari, then a NES, Sega Genesis, and onward. But there was one game franchise which kept me on a certain company’s systems: The Legend of Zelda.

No game before (and few since) presented adventure, humor, and puzzle-solving thought in a single package. Plus, the storyline was always solid. If it said Legend of Zelda, you wanted to keep playing, and not just to the end, but to completion, where all side-adventures were done as well.

Puzzles for Link are good. Puzzles for your members are not.

Your credit union is not Hyrule, and the member benefits chart should not read as a set of clues to the Triforce. No joke: One of our clients has a member reward structure based on their level of involvement. That’s fine; offer more to your most profitable/engaged members. However, it is far too complicated, with 4 levels ranging from Bronze to Diamond. What changes can you expect from each level? There are 11 areas which vary, plus another 10 benefits which are available to all members. However, of these 10, 2 of them, despite being shown in a chart as available to all members, are actually an extra fee on certain account setups.

Confused yet?

I get why credit unions want to offer membership levels. A lot of the benefits you offer cost money, and why pay to provide them to members who have hardly any relationship with the institution? My concern is when you have so many variables, it’s hard for a member to keep track. Oh, did I mention that this credit union offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements for all new members, for the first 6 months?

Such a confusing structure lays the groundwork for member issues. “What do you mean I pay a fee? I never did before!” “Yes, but since you are now a member for more than 6 months, or your total balance fell below $5,000, or you’ve paid off your auto loan, you are now eligible for these new fees.”

Aim for simple. In all aspects of your institution. Your members and your staff will thank you.

“So that’s it? All that buildup with Link, Zelda, and references to the game series, and now you’re done?” Ah ha! You got me. This is part 1. Part 2 will discuss how you can use the best ideas from games to excite your members into furthering the relationship.

Image credit: http://images.cryhavok.org/d/3385-2/its-dangerous-to-go-alone-take-this.jpg